January 16, 2015

National Security Is Food Security: Corbett Report - Solutions: Guerrilla Gardening

Photo: Havana, Cuba. Source.

Video Title: Solutions: Guerrilla Gardening. Source: Corbett Report. Date Published: January 13, 2015. Description:
The problems are obvious: food safety scandals, the death of family farming, food supply insecurity, the revolving door between corporate lobbyists and government regulators, and many more. The soluion should be equally obvious: rolling up our sleeves and getting in the garden. Join us today as we explore this simple, natural solution to one of our most fundamental problems.
"There are also the inherent dangers posed by the insane practice of shipping foods half way around the world so that we can eat produce that isn't in season locally, or isn't even available locally. This process is not just insanely, massively inefficient, it also poses actual, real threats to national security. And, of course, by national security I'm not invoking the spectre of the "national security" that's pimped by the war on terror pundits, or their brethren in the ranks of government ,in the Department of Homeland Security, or what have you. I'm of course talking about real national security, to the extent that idea really exists.

And, for one example of that let's turn to my country of residence, Japan, which, for centuries, was more or less closed to the outside world with only a few isolated ports open for international trade.And despite that, the Japanese population did very well in feeding themselves on the traditional Japanese diet of rice, fish, and vegetables, which not only was really healthy, and led to the longest lived people on the planet, but, also, the Japanese people were capable of providing for their own food security.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and there are not only changes in diet, which are taking place, but also changes in the infrastructure undergirding the production process, changing the dynamics of that ability for this country to feed itself. So now, the official statistics from the Japanese government are that the Japanese food supply is now 40% domestic and 60% from foreign sources. That is to say, 60% of the food that's eaten here on a daily basis comes from abroad, which is fine enough all things being equal, but what happens in the event of disaster, or war, or sanctions, or blockade, or even just rising transportation costs. All of that directly impacts the ability of people here to actually feed themselves on a daily basis, and the more this process extends out, the more removed the population of Japan, or any other country, is from the days in which they were able to provide 100% of their own dietary requirements." - James Corbett [11:28 - 13:50].

An excerpt from, "A Call To Farms – Why America Needs A New Victory Garden Movement" by Chris Ripps, July 11, 2011:
Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, accounted for the production of nearly 40 percent of the nation’s produce at its peak in 1943. Vegetable, fruit and herb gardens were planted at private residences and public parks in United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Germany during World War I and World War II to reduce the pressure on the public food supply and build morale. The U.S. government considered this effort a matter of national security. So, what has changed in the past 50 plus years? 
Today, home and community gardeners grow only a fraction of what our parents and grandparents grew during the War. Meanwhile, agribusiness has grown out of control. Monsanto, who holds patents on about 80% of all genetically modified seeds, sues small farmers when their fields are contaminated with the patented seed. (see Rodney Nelson’s family farm) Monsanto spent almost $9 million lobbying Washington lawmakers during 2009, an off-election year for national politics.
An excerpt from, "Cities Alive the podcast - Agri-culturing the City" July 10, 2014:
"Our story begins in the busy streets of Havana, Cuba, the 1980s. The food system is dependent on industrial agriculture and imports.  
1989. The oil crisis means the end of oil and food coming in from Russia. The country faces a massive food shortage.  
Starving people do the only thing they can to stay alive. They start growing their own food. Everywhere. On balconies, empty lots, backyards, anything. Completely organic. Fruit. Beans. Potatoes. Pigs. Goats. Anywhere and everywhere is a place for food.  
In two years, gardens and farms are in every neighbourhood in Havana. The government starts to take notice. But instead of squashing the efforts, they start to help out.  
1994. The Cuban government opens an agriculture department. They just don't make it legal. They make it free, turning unused pubic land into gardens to grow food. Then, they train an army of people to monitor and help out the gardeners. They set up seed houses, community hubs with resources and information for neighbourhood gardeners. And, finally, they set up market spaces for farmers to gather and sell their produce.  
By 1998, there are over 8,000 organic gardens, run by individual growers and by the state. That's about half of all the country's vegetables. Sure, Cuba is different than here in Canada, the politics is different, the state has a lot more control, lots of North American cities don't own that much land. Still, there are plenty of parallels." [0:00 - 2:37].